It's a growing phenomenon in Australia and around the world. Couples, young families and singles alike are saying 'yes' to smaller living spaces. Environmental concerns, financial pressures, and the desire for more time and freedom are just a few of the reasons behind this widespread change in living patterns.
But what is all the fuss about? Why are people leaving their comfortable 3-bedroom houses in the 'burbs and moving into tiny houses? Wellspring spoke to Endeavour staff member and tiny house dweller Stephanie McKinnon about her experiences living in a 14 foot caravan.
Where do you live and what's your tiny house like?
My husband, James, and I live on five acres of beautiful land near Lake Manchester in Brisbane. It's about an hour’s drive west of the city's central business district. Our tiny house is a 1979 vintage pop-top. It's got faded yellow and green horizontal stripes, like it's been plucked from a sleepy beach town. We've replaced the flooring and painted the inside but kept the original fittings to keep some of the existing style. And yes, it's tiny! The 14 foot space is basically the size of a small room. To put things in perspective...it only takes five or six steps to walk from one end to the other.
What made you decide to live in a tiny house?
The journey has been a natural progression. The concept was birthed in us after spending a week off the grid. We stayed in a fully self-contained cabin on the side of a mountain in northern New South Wales. It was the end of winter on the mountain (but you wouldn't have known it from the icy cold winds that split the air around the cabin). Despite the cold, we had our most peaceful week on record there. We put it down to a few factors - living in a small space together without distractions from electronics, having access to beautiful wide open spaces just outside our door and having time to connect with each other. We returned from our trip re-energised, desiring to one day replicate the simple life we experienced in that blessed cabin.
From there it was an exercise in timing. We both pondered our options internally, without really discussing it, for about six months. We loved the idea of 'living tiny' but weren't sure how to transition our heavily Brisbane-based life.
How did you make the transition?
It just sort of fell into place. We both felt as though we would meet someone who would give us a caravan. We didn't know why or how or anything like that, we just felt it was going to happen. Then sure enough it did happen. We scored our 1979 caravan for well below market price through a friend of a friend. As for the land, we're lucky enough to rent our little piece of earth from a close family member. Both my husband and I have flexible work schedules, so that really helped with our transition out of the city.
What's the most rewarding thing and most challenging thing about living in a tiny house?
The most rewarding part is the simplicity. Living in a tiny home allows us to interact more easily with nature. We live and work literally three steps from nature. From inside our 14ft house we can hear the large gum trees rustle, smell the soft scent of the Australian bush on the wind and see the ridge behind us light up as the sun sets.
The most challenging part is the lack of facilities – this is the less glamorous side of simple living. They include showering outdoors (it is less fancy than it sounds), managing septic systems and living in a small space with another human being. Despite the difficulties, the rewards definitely make the experience worthwhile.
As it turns out, good things really do come in small packages.
About Stephanie McKinnon
Stephanie has her roots in marketing but enjoys writing, travelling and designing typefaces. She's an avid herbal-tea drinker and loves living in her 14 foot tiny house. When she's not working or studying, she's writing articles for the travel and lifestyle website, ourlifeblood, that she co-founded with her husband James. Follow ourlifeblood on Instagram.
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